Students should definitely be considered the customers of the school system. Parents are the legal guardians of those customers, and along with local businesses and taxpayers in general, are the shareholders in the system.
Regarding the latest from the Portland Public School System: Merging all elementary and middle schools into a citywide network of K-8 schools actually sounds like a great proposal. I attended the Metropolitan Learning Center in NW Portland from 5th through 10th grade, and the presence of kids of all ages definitely made that school feel more like a family, it created more community, and it expanded the range of options available to all children (library, swimming pool, etc.) I understand why high schools need to generally be separate from K-8 -- that's the only way that the district can reasonably supply the foreign languages, science labs, etc. that high school students require.
However, I think that many high school students are, by the completion of the 10th grade, ready to begin working at the college level, and often those last two years of high school are sort of wasted, in terms of academic progress. I think Oregon needs to seriously consider making it more of a mainstream option for kids to go to college after the 10th grade, both by establishing early admission programs at some of the institutions of higher learning across the state (or starting a new institution, along the lines of the Evergreen State College, perhaps to be located in Astoria), and by making the option to leave high school after the 10th grade more generally available and acceptable within the high school environment. As in, if students perform at a high enough level (measure by their GPA, standardized testing and SAT scores, I imagine) while in grades 7-10, then they will have the option of going to college after grade 10 if they so choose.
Finally, when it comes to school consolidation... I sure hope the school district is using GIS, preferably ArcGIS with Network Analyst. Somebody needs to make a map of Portland, with all of its K-8 schools. They then need to plot quarter, half and one-mil walking distance buffers around each school. If the walking buffer of any school is completely overlapped by the buffers of the surrounding schools, then it might make sense to close it. However, if a school's buffer is not overlapped by any surrounding buffers, then under no circumstances should it be closed! This would do WONDERS for easing parents concerns, easing traffic congestion due to parents driving kids to school, and empowering students to walk and ride their bicycles to their neighborhood school!
OK, I think that's it for now.